Over the years, Marvel has successfully found a way to tell its stories in nearly every medium possible. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been unfolding through movies and television shows for over a decade, fan-favorite characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine have been appearing in video games since the early ’80s.
Marvel has been a consistent presence in the industry since they released Spider-Man for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Not every game has received the same amount of praise as 2021’s Guardians of the Galaxy or Insomniac’s Miles Morales, but some have become forgotten about over time and are still super fun to play to this day.
10/10 Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (2019)
The original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and its sequel are often regarded as some of the best games ever to star Marvel characters. Its large roster helped introduce obscure characters like Luke Cage and Moon Knight to more casual fans, and the multiplayer mode allowed you to play through the entire campaign with a friend.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 was released a decade after Ultimate Alliance 2 but wasn’t able to capture the same amount of attention as its predecessors. In a strange twist, Nintendo helped publish the game, which ultimately turned it into a Switch exclusive. If it was available on more platforms it might have become a bigger hit, but you should still check it out if you can.
9/10 X2: Wolverine’s Revenge (2003)
Besides Spider-Man, Wolverine has starred in more video games than any other Marvel character. Each one puts you in the antihero’s shoes and lets you use his unique powers to slice up enemies and save the day. Not all of them are great, but X2: Wolverine’s Revenge finds the perfect balance between narrative and action.
While Wolverine’s Revenge was released to help promote the second X-Men movie, it tells a separate story full of surprises. Wolverine has been injected with a deadly virus and must find the cure within 48 hours to save himself. It’s a gripping tale that’s made even better by Mark Hamill’s performance and a fun combat system.
8/10 Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)
Lego has been taking popular franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones and adapting them into family-friendly video games since the early 2000s, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when they announced they would be tackling Marvel in 2013. Like always, they filled the game with a huge roster of playable characters and a hilarious co-op campaign.
One of the main reasons Lego Marvel Super Heroes failed to stand out is that it was one of many Lego games being released at the time. The brand was putting out so many games from the Jurassic World and Batman franchises that it was difficult for any of them to leave an impression.
7/10 Captain America: Super Soldier (2011)
While they aren’t as prevalent as they used to be, it was once incredibly common for a major motion picture to license out the property for a video game adaptation. These titles were usually commercial and critical failures, but occasionally one would stand out for its quality, like Goldeneye or Captain America: Super Soldier.
If you’re familiar with the plot of Captain America: The First Avenger, you might be a bit disappointed to discover Super Soldier essentially tells the same story with some minor tweaks. It makes up for it, though with a great combat system and most of the cast of the movie voicing their in-game characters.
6/10 The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005)
Out of all the Marvel Super Heroes, The Incredible Hulk has consistently been one of the most fun to play as. His super strength and speed are perfect for a powerful protagonist, but despite starring in multiple games during the early ’00s, the Incredible Hulk has mostly been on the sidelines for over a decade.
If you want to know what it feels like to be Bruce Banner on a bad day, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was the perfect encapsulation of what the character is capable of. You can run around large open areas and destroy nearly any object in your path. It’s an incredibly satisfying world to both explore and destroy, it would just be great if we could do it again on modern platforms.
5/10 Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)
Marvel had a major presence during the peak of the beat ’em up genre in the ’90s. The company licensed their characters to appear in over twenty games during this time, but not all of them were able to leave as strong of an impression as Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage.
You can play as either Spider-Man or Venom as you defend New York from Carnage and his team of recognizable villains. The game is an adaptation of a popular comic book arc and features cameos from Captain America, Iron Fist, and everyone’s favorite, Morbius. To help make the game even cooler, both the SNES and Genesis versions had red-colored cartridges that helped it stand out from other titles.
4/10 Guardians Of The Galaxy: The Telltale Series (2017)
After developing games inspired by Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, it always felt inevitable that Telltale would eventually work with a Marvel property. Unfortunately, by the time Telltale launched their episodic Guardians of the Galaxy game, many fans were feeling fatigued by their formula and began skipping their latest releases.
It’s a shame because Guardians of the Galaxy was one of Telltale’s last hurrahs before the studio suddenly closed in 2018. It almost immediately subverts expectations in the beginning and then continues to explore each character’s background with great storytelling and performances from the cast. Add a great soundtrack, tough decisions, and a bit of humor, and you’ve got a great alternative to 2021’s Guardians of the Galaxy game.
3/10 The Punisher (2005)
Most of Marvel’s content is relatively family-friendly, but certain characters like Deadpool or The Punisher thrive in more mature scenarios. Instead of simply knocking out bad guys and teaching them a lesson, these antiheroes usually use extreme measures of violence to get what they want, and The Punisher game from 2005 doesn’t hold back.
This Punisher game was initially so brutal, the ESRB wanted to rate it as “Adult Only,” which would have significantly reduced its availability. Even after the developers removed some content, it was a controversial release due to its torture mechanic and death animations. If you’re looking for a gritty Marvel experience, The Punisher is one of the best.
2/10 X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (1994)
It’s always a blast to see your favorite hero’s origin story, but it’s even better when they team up with a squad of other powerful beings to take down a common threat. X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse follows five of Charles Xavier’s finest students – Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, and Psylocke – as they work together to save other mutants and stop Apocalypse in his tracks.
There had been a few X-Men games before, but Mutant Apocalypse was the first one to stand out for its stellar gameplay and stages. Each hero felt fantastic to control, and the ability to play through the levels in any order you like helped make the adventure feel non-linear. Not only is Mutant Apocalypse an underrated Marvel game, but it’s also an extremely underrated side-scrolling beat ’em up.
1/10 Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010)
The idea of shared universes and multiple timelines has become a major focus for Marvel Entertainment since the beginning of the fourth phase of the MCU. It’s been a divisive era, but it’s hard to know if it would even be happening right now if it wasn’t for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
After the Table of Order and Chaos is destroyed during a battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio, trouble starts rippling through multiple realities. Madame Web calls on four different Peter Parker’s to stitch everything back together and fight villains like Doctor Octopus. Shattered Dimensions helped inspire the “Spider-Verse” comics which would eventually be adapted into the monumental Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. If you are curious to see where the concept for the MCU’s Multiverse began to form, Shattered Dimensions is a great place to start.